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Drone flights banned during Sto. Niño procession, Sinulog grand parade

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita January 13,2015 - 09:50 AM


Drones that have gained popularity among filmmakers and photographers won't be allowed to take flight during the Sinulog as part of tight security measures. Over 2,000 police and military personnel will secure the Sunday parade. A similar no-fly zone applies for the papal visit in Metro Manila. (CDN PHOTO/ LITO TECSON)

Drones that have gained popularity among filmmakers and photographers won’t be allowed to take flight during the Sinulog as part of tight security measures. Over 2,000 police and military personnel will secure the Sunday parade. A similar no-fly zone applies for the papal visit in Metro Manila. (CDN PHOTO/ LITO TECSON)

The six-kilometer stretch of the Sinulog grand parade in Cebu City on Sunday is declared a “no fly zone” for unmanned aerial systems or drones.

More eyes will also be watching Cebu City’s streets this Sinulog as 26 additional closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) will be installed on the parade route, beefing up 30 existing cameras of the city government in high-traffic roads.

The ban on unauthorized drone flights will also apply during the solemn foot procession in honor of the Sto. Niño on Saturday.

Only the media would be  allowed to operate  drones  provided they secure a permit from City Hall,  but aerial photography would be limited to the Cebu City Sports Complex.

“Drone cameras can pose risks to the public. We never know if the drones are being used to carry bombs,” said Councilor Dave Tumulak, operations head of the   Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, at a security briefing.

He did not say though what penalties await violators.

The “no drone” restriction would also be enforced in areas to be visited by Pope Francis this week.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines which also regulates the use of drones, violators  face fines of P300,000  to P500,000.

Tumulak said City Hall will be using 26 additional closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in monitoring the peace and order situation in the city.

“These cameras will be put up in areas along the Sinulog grand parade route as well as identified risky and crowded areas, hotspots and entrances and exits within the city,” he said.

Three companies agreed to lend the cameras during the celebration at no cost to the government.

He said the Sinulog would serve as a testing ground for the electronic surveillance system which City Hall is planning to acquire.

The three firms are vying for the proposed project’s contract.

The cameras will be installed starting tomorrow and will be  fully operational by Thursday.

“But this alone is not an assurance for peace and order in the city. We are encouraging the public to help us by  reporting if they see suspicious persons who may have recently  transferred to their barangays or in hotels and lodges nearby,” Tumulak said.

Despite having fewer  personnel this year to secure the Sinulog, the festivities will be orderly and crime-free, assured Senior Supt. Conrad Capa, deputy director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) and officer-in-charge of the Cebu City Police Office.

“Cebu will have fun with the security that would be provided by us. We will make sure that it would be peaceful and orderly,” he said.

Security forces in the country have their hands full this week as the visit to the country of Pope Francis coincides with the feast of the Sto. Niño where festivals in honor of the Holy Child are centerpiece events in the Visayas. The Pope, who is arriving on Thursday, is scheduled to go to Tacloban City and Palo in Leyte on Saturday.

Security reinforcements for  the Sinulog festivities in Cebu usually come from PRO-7 and the armed forces Central Command.

With the Pope’s visit,  the bulk of police and military  personnel were sent to augment  security in Leyte.

Capa said about 1,700 policemen from the CCPO and over 800 from PRO-7, including policemen from Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu would secure the procession and the grand parade.

This year’s security deployment is way below the 4,000 policemen in last year’s Sinulog.

“I would have wanted more. But it’s the most the regional headquarters can give due to the visit of the Holy Father in Leyte and Manila,” he said.

Centcom is deploying a 30-man quick response team for critical security situations.

About 4,000 students taking up Reserve Officers Training Corps courses and Civic Welfare Training Service under the National Service Training Program as well as military reservists would be tapped for crowd control along the parade and procession route.

Security plans for the Sinulog were incorporated in the general plan for the papal visit.

So far, no threats have been reported by security personnel in the air and seaports which were required to submit situation reports three times daily as well as  intelligence networks in the barangays. /with reports from Correspondent Apple Mae Ta-as and Senior Reporter Ador Vincent S. Mayol

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TAGS: drone, peace and order, photography, Sinulog Festival

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